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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M volleyball 2023 schedule breakdown

Photo by Luca Yaquinto

The Aggies celebrate a point as Alabama dives for the ball during A&M’s match against Alabama at Reed Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

A new era of Texas A&M volleyball is set to begin this season under first-year head coach Jamie Morrison. On Saturday, June 17, the program released its upcoming 2023 schedule, giving Aggie fans something to look forward to.
First Opportunities for Fans (Preseason)
Once the regular season rolls around the Aggies will be on the road for their first two weekends of tournament play. However, fans of the Fightin’ Farmers will get an early chance to see the team in action as they play in their Maroon & White Scrimmage at Reed Arena on Tuesday, Aug. 15, before hosting Baylor at Reed Arena for an exhibition match on Saturday, Aug. 19.
The Maroon & White Scrimmage will be a great way for fans of the volleyball program to get a taste of what this new era will look like. With it being strictly players from the Aggies on both sides of the court, there will be plenty of opportunities to see what is in store for the new style of play Morrison will bring.
In 2022, the Aggies lost in five sets to Baylor in their exhibition match in Waco. This season, A&M will get a chance to test its skills once again against its former Big 12 foe and perennial top-25 team. Only this time, it will be in front of the fans in Reed Arena. The Bears ended their 2022 season in second place in their conference behind Texas and made it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Despite being an exhibition, it will be good for Morrison and his team to get an early gauge of how they stack up against some of the best competition in the country.
Starting on the Road
The 2023 season will be the first time since 2019 that the Aggies play their first two non-conference tournaments on the road. They will begin the season in Omaha, Nebraska on August 25 and 26 for a pair of matches in the Omaha Tournament before traveling to Bowling Green, Ohio the following week for the Hampton Inn Invitational.
A&M will begin the Omaha Tournament against the hosting Omaha Mavericks. The Mavericks are coming off a 20-11 season in which they came up a win short of an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, falling to South Dakota in the Summit League championship game. Despite that, the Mavericks managed to receive an automatic bid into the National Invitational Volleyball Championship in which they fell in the first round to the University of the Pacific. Omaha will be returning its AVCA All-America Honorable Mention in senior middle blocker McKenna Ruch, along with 2022 AVCA All-Midwest Region Team member, junior outside hitter Shayla McCormick. However, the Mavericks may see many new faces get playing time this year as they signed eight newcomers this offseason.
Pepperdine will be the second team the Aggies face in Omaha. This will be the 10th time these schools matchup on the volleyball court, with the Waves leading the all-time series 5-4. A&M will likely get an early season test in this match as the Waves are the first team on the Aggies schedule that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2022. Pepperdine fell in the first round to Stanford, but aims to have a better season this year as they return most of its production from last year.
At the Hampton Inn Invitational, the Aggies open up against a pair of teams they have yet to face since 1991 in Wright State and the tournament host, Bowling Green. The tournament will run from Aug 31through Sept. 2.
Wright State is coming off one of its best seasons in program history in which they finished 28-4 and 18-0 in the Horizon League. The Raiders won the Horizon League regular season title and tournament before being swept in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Georgia Tech. Head coach of the Raiders, Travers Green, has completely turned around this volleyball program in his two years as coach and returns much of his roster from last year.
The tournament hosts, Bowling Green, will be another team the Aggies face that made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season. The Falcons were co-champions of the MAC in 2022 before winning the MAC Tournament title. However, the Falcons fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Western Kentucky. Unfortunately for Bowling Green, they lost six of its 13 players from last year’s squad.
For the final match for the Aggies in this tournament, they find themselves up against another team who dominated in conference play and earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, Loyola Chicago. Sister Jean’s favorite volleyball team won the Atlantic 10 championship last season before being knocked out in the NCAA Tournament in the first round by Kentucky. The Ramblers lost five seniors from last year’s team and will have a good mix of experience and newcomers for the 2023 season.
Texas A&M Invitational
After two straight weekends on the road, the Maroon and White open its home season with its annual tournament, the Texas A&M Invitational. The Aggies will play three matches in the tournament from Sep 7 through 9. It will be another tournament in which the Aggies face three teams who all qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2022.
The first match for A&M will be against the Aggies from Utah State. Utah State won the Mountain West tournament last season but was swept in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Arkansas. The MWC champions look to have another good season as, much like Loyola Chicago, they will have a good balance of returners, underclassmen and transfers. They will be led by graduate middle blocker Kennedi Boyd and senior outside hitter Tatum Stall, who were both named All-Mountain West players in 2022.
Most Aggie fans know about Northern Iowa as the school that the 2015-16 A&M men’s basketball team defeated in the NCAA Tournament in one of the greatest comebacks in tournament history. However, they should get familiar with the Panthers volleyball program as they’re coming off a Missouri Valley Championship and an appearance in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. The Panthers swept Florida State in the first round of the tournament before being swept by Minnesota. In 2023, UNI will rely mainly on its youth as they have only two seniors on its roster after losing five seniors from last year.
The Aggies wrap up the Invitational with an in-state power-five matchup against TCU. The Horned Frogs finished third in the Big 12 last season and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Wisconsin. TCU is poised for another bright season as they signed seven new freshmen along with a pair of transfers to add to a strong group of veteran players.
Overall, the Invitational should give Aggie fans some high-quality volleyball to look forward to seeing at Reed Arena.
Final Non-Conference Matches
Before the Aggies start their 18-game journey through the SEC, they will have a couple of opportunities at home to face more high-level competition. On Wednesday, Sept. 13, the Aggies host Houston before turning around two days later and hosting Liberty on Friday, Sept. 15.
Once more, A&M will face a team in the non-conference who made a run to the NCAA Tournament in 2022. The Houston Cougars advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in last year’s tournament, finishing the season 30-4. The Cougars should remain a force to reckon with this season as they make their transition into the Big 12, losing only three seniors from last year’s roster while retaining three seniors from last year as graduate students. Houston also signed three transfers this offseason, including Texas Tech graduate transfer outside hitter Kenna Sauer, who has been first-team All-Big 12 twice in her career.
The schedule won’t cool down the following game as the Maroon and White face a Liberty Flames team that was a win away from making the NCAA Tournament in 2022. The Flames fell in the ASUN championship game last year, which would have secured their spot in the NCAA Tournament but instead, they were sent to the NIVC, where they were eliminated in the first round by Western Carolina. Liberty should come into College Station with a ton of experience, as they only lost two seniors from last year’s roster.
It is evident that the Aggies wanted to challenge themselves during the non-conference this season with all the NCAA Tournament-level teams they are facing. It will also be a great chance to watch many NCAA Tournament-caliber volleyball teams. However, the Aggies won’t get a break from the tough competition as they start their trek through conference play.
Morrison’s SEC Home Opener
The anticipated conference opener for Morrison and the Aggies will take place at Reed Arena as they play host to Mississippi State on Wednesday, Sept. 20. A&M fell to the Bulldogs in both games last season at Reed Arena, so they will look to get some revenge as well as starting its conference season on a high note.
Despite the season sweep of the Aggies last year, Mississippi State had an average season in 2022 and failed to make the NCAA Tournament. However, the 2023 team will be full of experience, as they retained a good chunk of its roster from 2022 while adding high-impact transfers, such as Georgia graduate setter Alexa Fortin.
Game 1 against the Bulldogs should be a good launching pad into the rest of conference play, as the Aggies are facing a team that will likely finish in the middle of the SEC standings.
Five of Six Away From Home
After the SEC home opener, A&M plays five out of its next six games on the road. The Aggies will finish up the month of September with a trip to Arkansas on Sept. 24 before playing at Florida on Sep. 27.
Both of the first two road matches in conference for the Aggies should be great early conference season tests. Each of the teams competed in the NCAA Tournament in 2022 with Arkansas falling in the second round and Florida bowing out in the Sweet 16. Florida finished atop the conference standings, tied with Kentucky, while the Razorbacks finished fourth.
On Oct. 1, the Aggies will be back at home to face the Missouri Tigers in what could be the Maroon and White’s easiest match to that point. Mizzou finished dead last in the conference last season as they only won two conference games. However, one of those matches was against the Aggies, in Columbia. The Aggies won the following match against the Tigers in 2022, and they will want to try and avoid another loss to the Tigers this year.
The next three matches will be on the road, as the Aggies take a trip to Mississippi to take on Ole Miss on Oct. 6 before a rematch against Mississippi State on Oct. 8. They will finish out the stretch of three games on the road, with a trip to LSU on Oct. 13.
Ole Miss finished in tenth place in the SEC in 2022, just above the Aggies at 11th, and also dropped its only game to A&M in the conference opener last year. The Rebels will be searching for a better season than last year with a little revenge in mind when the Maroon and White roll into Oxford.
LSU finished 9-9 in the SEC, with a win at Reed Arena last season. The Tigers also qualified for the NCAA Tournament, where they were eliminated in the second round by Stanford. Any matchup between these two schools in any sport brings much interest to fans, and the Aggies will have the tall task of going into Baton Rouge for a Friday night rivalry match.
Once those six games are finished, the Aggies will have a much-needed stretch of games at home.
Vice Versa
The next six games for the Aggies is the complete opposite from their prior six, as they will play five of six games at Reed Arena. A&M will host a match with South Carolina on Oct. 15, a rematch with Florida on Oct. 20 and the only match with Georgia on Oct. 22.
Although the level of competition fails to slow down in the SEC, it will be a nice breath of fresh air for Morrison and his squad to get back in front of the 12th Man. The match against South Carolina will be one the Aggies would love to win. A&M defeated the Gamecocks last season despite being behind them in the conference standings, and the Gamecocks failed to qualify for the postseason.
However, the competition will kick up a notch in the next matches against Florida and Georgia. The Bulldogs are coming off a third-place finish in the SEC and a trip to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Before coming back to College Station for another pair of matches, the Aggies will play Tennessee in Knoxville on Oct. 29. This will be another large challenge for Morrison in Year 1, as it is always hard to play in the Cronan Volleyball Center. The Volunteers are coming off a fourth-place finish in the SEC, tied with Arkansas, and a trip to the NCAA Tournament as well.
When the Aggies get back to Reed Arena, they will host both teams from Alabama as they take on the Crimson Tide on Nov. 3 and Auburn on Nov. 5.
Alabama had a rough season in 2022, being one of two teams who had a worse record in conference than the Aggies. However, Auburn will be a bump in competition, as they finished sixth in the SEC last year and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
A&M will then hit the road again as they begin its final five games of the regular season.
The Final Stretch
In its last five games, A&M will only face one team they had not seen up to that point. That will be when the Aggies travel to Lexington, Kentucky to face the Kentucky Wildcats on Nov. 16.
Kentucky finished tied at the top of the SEC in 2022 with Florida and made an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats are a force to be reckoned with in the SEC, and it is especially tough having to play at the Memorial Coliseum.
The rest of the matches for the Aggies will be against familiar faces as they play at Missouri on Nov. 10, before hosting Tennessee on Nov. 19 and Ole Miss on Nov. 22. The final match of the regular season will be played in Tuscaloosa, Alabama as the Maroon and White take on the Crimson Tide on Nov. 25.
Closing Thoughts
As evident in the competition on the Aggies’ schedule, Year 1 for Morrison will be a challenge. 15 teams on the Aggies schedule qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, while the Aggies did not. It will be interesting for fans of the Maroon and White to see if Morrison can turn things around from last season and get the program rolling the way it has in the past.
For now, all fans can do is get excited about the upcoming schedule as the offseason continues to roll on and Morrison and the Aggies continue to get prepared for 2023.

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